Under The Stars

Turffontein night -racing season launches on Tuesday 16 October

Classy – Welwitschia returns from a break and adds lustre to the opening Turffontein night meeting on Tuesday

The Highveld Night Racing Season gets into swing on Tuesday evening at Turffontein where a bumper high-quality ten race programme is scheduled. The return of the classy Welwitschia adds a touch of class and glamour to the evening.

If fit and ready, the UK-bred mare could make it a winning return to racing action.

Tuesday sees the exciting opening salvo of sixteen night meetings scheduled for the Turffontein track between October and April.  Phumelela could hardly have hoped for a better start to the season, with a quality ten race programme.

It will also be interesting to see how the form works out on the standside track, which hosts its first meeting after its annual spring treatment. Phumelela Racing Executive Patrick Davis described the condition of the surface as we went to print, as being in ‘mint condition.’


A Pinnacle Stakes run over 1000m for a stake of R110 000 is the evening’s mainliner and hosts a field of twelve, including the Mike De Kock-trained Welwitschia, who returns from a rest of 119 days.

The daughter of Oasis Dream is one of the most accomplished sprinting females in South Africa, and a winner of 5 of her 13 starts.

She won the Gr2 Camelia Stakes on Champions Day in sensational style and then produced two excellent placed efforts in the Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint and the Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes. She was less than a combined 3,35 lengths behind the likes of respective winners, the champions Ebony Flyer and Princess Victoria, and earned a well-deserved break thereafter.

Power Player

Speedster – The classy Deliver The Power should go very close in the hands of Piere Strydom 

Piere Strydom rides the top-class Toreador gelding Deliver The Power, who is the highest-rated runner in the race and looks well-weighted off his 60kgs.

Deliver The Power made no show in the Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint at end May after reeling off five in a row earlier, and this multiple Gr3 winner won a good race at Turffontein over 1000m in mid-August, beating the former Capetonian, Uncle Tommy. The latter did not confirm the strength when flopping next time out though.

Diane Stenger’s Midnight Serenade is a Listed winner and Group race placed sprinter. A capable sort, he is well held by the likes of Deliver The Power on their past clashes. The son of Malhub will strip fitter here though after a solid third to Gold Site in an MR104 Handicap over the Vaal 1000m in mid-September.

Action Man

Chris Erasmus’ Legal Action is a game and consistent 4yo, who last won in March this year when grabbing top honours in the  non black-type Var Gold Rush Sprint over 1100m at Turffontein.He narrowly got the better there of Midnight Serenade when receiving 7,5kgs from him, and now meets the Stenger horse on 2,5kgs worse terms.

The balance look unlikely to win it and making a case for them is more based on emotion than any genuine form rationale:

Lance Wiid’s Winking Jack is now 8 years of age, but despite very little recent form is still held in some esteem by the handicapper. It is worrying that he was reported making respiratory noises in his last start over the Vaal 1000m, and his best recent effort was a fair third in the Flamingo Sprint at Kimberley.  Capable but needs to show more current enthusiasm.

Magic Model

Model – The gallant Mannequin loves the lights and always puts her best foot forward 

Apprentice Wesley Marwing takes 4kgs off the classy mare Mannequin, who seldom runs a bad race. She is no slouch as a twelve-time winner, but her last two wins were on the sand, and she may find this too hot on the turf. She beat subsequent August Stakes winner Across The Ice in July, but went down 5,75 lengths in the Hampton Handicap behind Be Assured.

The Gr3 Lebelo Sprint winner Gold Site hold on to beat Weiho Marwing’s Soweto Slew last time at the Vaal – but the latter failed behind Link Man in the Joburg Spring Challenge on Saturday.

Gold Site received 5kgs from Midnight Serenade when beating him by 1,25 lengths into third at the Vaal on 18 September, but now only gets 1 kg, so should struggle.

Romeo’s Reward has won 3 of 12 starts, but was beaten 15,50 lengths by Deliver The Power when receiving 2 kgs from him at their last meeting – way back in January this year.

Romeo’s Reward was reported lame after that run, and his effort in December 2011, when getting within 5,50 lengths of Deliver The Power may be a better reflection of his true ability. He received 5kgs then and gets 4,5kgs on Tuesday evening. That should see him coming off second best again and he starts here off a ninth month break

Policy Decision

Recent shock Hampton Handicap winner Be Assured is coupled with the long rested one-time winner Ampere, for Kom Naidoo.

Be Assured is no slouch on the turf and will start a very fit horse after winning two of his last three starts. The grass will be a different proposition to the sand though, and the 7yo son of Woodborough could be bustled off his feet by the more expedient sorts here.

Ampere is difficult to assess, but may need it after a ten month holiday.

The Grant Maroun-trained Kayhaladin won a MR 88 Handicap at his penultimate start beating Rodeo Dandy, but this is a lot stronger. The former Glen Puller-trained has generally battled since relocating from Cape Town.

Even receiving as much a ten kgs, Corne Spies’ one-time winner Glastonbury looks hopelessly outclassed and still under sufferance. He is likely to do best by contributing to the frenetic pace for the first 500m or so. He looks an optimistic entry at best.


The past few weeks have demonstrated that Mike De Kock’s awesome fire-power are getting into top gear and the champion yard will be looking for the Wilgerbosdrift mare Welwitschia  to open her Highveld Spring campaign on a winning note.

Welwitschia is drawn against the paint, and her biggest threat could be posed by the shrewd Piere Strydom, who will be piloting the smart and fast Deliver The Power from the very other side of the track.

The pincer onslaught could produce a thriller as the two come together late in the race. Delpech will have to be wide awake to ensure that Strydom doesn’t catch him napping and flat-footed.

It should be a great evening’s entertainment. As they say – night time is the right time.

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